Final Stretch To Settling the Lahaina Injection Wells Case

The community has made it clear – we want our coral reefs and ocean protected from harmful wastewater. What we don’t want is for Maui County to litigate to the Supreme Court for the right to pollute.

The Maui County Council voted on September 20 to settle the Lahaina Injection Wells Case and withdraw the Supreme Court appeal. Voting in favor of the resolution were members Kelly King, Mike Molina, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Shane Sinenci, and Tamara Paltin. Voting against were members Riki Hokama, Tasha Kama, Alice Lee and Yuki Lei Sugimura.

This landmark vote was the first time in many years of negotiations and litigation that the majority of Council members took the bold stance to stop the “business as usual”—continual litigation—and focused on solutions for this issue on Maui. They showed true leadership, supporting the clear decision of the people. Will Mayor Victorino respect the County Charter, the Council decision and the will of the community? Or will he attempt to find a way to keep the litigation going?

We are now well past the eleventh hour, and the Corporate Counsel is making suspicious and unprecedented statements that the County Council may not have authority to vote on this issue after all. Meanwhile, David Raatz, supervising legislative attorney with the Office of Council Services, said otherwise: He stated succinctly that the proposed settlement was “a policy-making matter within the council’s exclusive authority as the county’s legislative body.”

On September 25, a letter was sent by Chair Kelly King to the Corporate Counsel, requesting prompt execution of the settlement agreement by taking the necessary actions to file the papers withdrawing the case from the U.S. Supreme Court. This action is consistent with Resolution 19-158 and makes it clear that the Council has exercised its authority under the Charter to direct the Corporate Counsel and the Mayor to settle the case on Maui County’s behalf.

This case is slated to go before the Supreme Court on November 6, so time is of the essence. The Corporate Counsel and the Mayor must honor the will of the people and the decision of the Council. A status report on the case settlement by the Corp Counsel is due the first week of October. If the Corp Counsel continues to try to usurp the Councils authority, the Council will consider filing a complaint to the ODC which can revoke their right to act as attorneys in Hawai‘i.

Here are the actions you can take:

Remind the Mayor of his campaign promise to collaborate with the Council and tell the Corp Council to take necessary steps to withdraw the case promptly HERE.

Also if you have had your own difficult experiences with Corp Counsel that you would like to share, Chair Kelly King requests that you email her directly at kelly.king@mauicounty.us